Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was a street-smart guy, the kind that other officers want for a partner. He was the proverbial "cop's cop," always doing more than required.

Stationed in the 24th District since November, Liczbinski quickly gained the respect of other officers, his commanders and the community.

And the 39-year-old was a family man. He had his kids in tow at every police barbecue.

In the brown-brick 24th District headquarters in the 3900 block of Whitaker Street today, the flags were at half staff and Capt. David Mockus choked back tears.

"It's going to be a hard week," said Mockus. "We depend on each other here. . . . We were talking yesterday, and we were just joking around.

"It hurts when you lose a cop like this. We're close-knit. We lost a member of our family."

To 24th District Officer Carlos Cortez, Liczbinski was "an excellent supervisor."

"He treated everybody equally," said Cortez, who has worked in the district 13 years.

But Liczbinski spent most of his career as a South Philadelphia street cop in the Fourth District.

Sgt. Raymond Evers was a detective then and said he regularly asked for help from Liczbinski in Fourth District cases.

He said Liczbinski wasn't a big man, not a "muscle head." But he did not shy away from tough assignments.

"If you had a warrant on you, he would find you. This guy was the real deal," Evers said.

To Fourth District Sgt. Denise Brown, Liczbinski was "someone willing to do the job above and beyond duty."

Liczbinski's partner for six years at the Fourth District was Officer Gary Harkins, who was staying with Liczbinski's family last night.

On duty in the Five Squad burglary detail, they regularly nabbed the bad guys. Off-duty, they hung out together. Sometimes Liczbinski brought his children to Harkins' house.

"Steve was just a great family man, did everything with his kids," said Harkins' wife, Marie. "Wherever his kids went, he went. They were his number-one priority."

Officer Harkins and Liczbinski talked every day, sometimes about things that hurt, such as the death of the Harkinses' 18-year-old son, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1999.

She said that before Liczbinski was promoted, her husband became the community relations officer for the Fourth District.

Still, they talked every day. When Liczbinski went to the 24th District in November, they kept talking, assuring each other that they were in the right jobs.

And on early Saturday, they talked again, shortly before Liczbinski was killed.

Now, Gary Harkins' words are obscured.

"Every time my husband talks," she said, "he's crying."

Contact staff writer Mark Fazlollah at 215-854-5831 or mfazlollah@phillynews.com.